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I want to build a game with a concept similar to Ingress, where the game map is overlaid on a real one.

Where can I find map data for an app like that? How (generally) do I integrate my own game objects into that map? Game objects need to move in real time, so having them as static markers on the map isn't sufficient.

I thought I could use Google Maps but as far as I can tell it would be impossible to create my own graphical style (like Ingress has done) with the official API provided by Google.

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Ingress was developed by Google, so I wouldn't be surprised if the developers have access to information that isn't readily available to the public. In this case you would likely need to research available mapping tools, possibly create your own technology using separately licensed mapping information. –  Thebluefish Dec 14 '13 at 18:36
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up vote 9 down vote accepted

You could use OpenStreetMap data.

It is liberally licensed. In particular, their wiki says:

3c. If I make something with OSM data, do I now have to apply your license to my whole work?

No. For example, if you have written a game or published an artistic map which includes OSM data, only the data is covered by the license. This is called a Produced Work.

The developer wiki explains how to import OSM data into a database for your own use.

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I recommend Natural Earth Data as a source of public domain cultural and physical GIS data with global coverage. Vector data sets include landmasses, countries, populated places etc, while raster base layers are available with optional details like land elevation, climate, waterways and submarine elevation.

This data is intended for use with GIS software, but can be manipulated and then exported as something more "game friendly" (svg, png etc.) using tools like QGIS or indiemapper with no financial outlay.

The vector layers come with detailed attribute tables that might also be useful for simulations such as names, populations and GDP.

Here are a couple of quick mock-up produced with this data: grey earth basemap overlayed with urban areas risk clone countries, urban areas, populated places

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This is a really nice data set but as far as I can tell, it does not provide road/street data which I would like to have for my game. –  Mark Dunne Dec 26 '13 at 2:58
    
No Problems, I understand it is not useful for your specific situation. When I saw the (significantly edited) question in the email digest I thought I would post this information as a resource that may help future visitors who find this page. –  Kelly Thomas Dec 26 '13 at 14:19
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